You may know that egg shells are compostable, but what about the cartons? Can you compost egg cartons? Learn the answer and more as we look into egg carton ingredients, compost options, and how to best recycle old egg cartons for maximum environmental benefits.
We all made egg carton crafts when we were kids but did you know they’re supposed to be single-use packaging? According to the USDA, or U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, egg cartons are meant for one-time use because food residue may cross-contaminate whatever it comes in contact with.
Of course, as with all single-use packaging, we must find responsible ways to reintegrate the materials back into the chain. Whether it be back into the manufacturing cycle through local recycling programs or, ideally, back into the earth as biodegradable materials, there’s a safe and easy way to deal with your old egg cartons.
Learn About Composting Egg Cartons
Let’s discuss all things egg cartons. Determine when to recycle egg cartons and when to compost them. We even have tips for how to compost egg cartons and which varieties work best for your home composting goals.
Can You Compost Egg Cartons?
A healthy compost pile requires organics to thrive; you wouldn’t put an old tire in your compost bin and hope it turns into fertilizer. The same is true for specific egg cartons, and it’s sometimes hard to know the difference. Egg cartons are created from different materials, and not all cartons are created equal, or considered compostable, biodegradable matter.
Well, can egg cartons be composted or not? The answer depends solely on the individual egg carton. Explore some types of egg cartons you might see while grocery shopping, which ones are recyclable, and which ones work best for composting at home.
Composting Pulp-Paper Style Egg Cartons
The famous pulp-paper egg carton has been around since 1931 and was originally invented by a Massachusetts farmer named Francis H. Sherman. Paper cartons became popular in the 1980s and are considered the most environmentally friendly egg carton packaging for their ability to compost quickly and easily.
A paper egg carton is a mixture of recycled paper, grass, and wood fibers. Pulp is made by creating a thick slurry with paper and water, sort of like paper-mâché. Paper egg cartons are entirely compostable and ready to be reintegrated into the earth after use.
To make egg carton compost, pop them directly into your garden, or shred them into small pieces to make composting quicker. Include them with shredded paper mulch in the compost bin or your garden plot.
Cardboard Egg Cartons and Compost
Composting egg cartons and finding suitable ways to recycle cardboard has become a matter of some urgency as we all look to become more environmentally aware. Cardboard cartons are one of the biggest offenders where taking up valuable landfill space is concerned, and it’s essential to find environmentally conscious ways to dispose of them.
Many people don’t realize that cardboard, in most cases, is completely compostable and degrades right alongside your yard waste, food waste, and other kinds of kitchen refuse without a problem.
A cardboard egg carton requires little moisture to break down quickly and adds an excellent carbon source to the compost pile. Always choose paper and cardboard egg cartons when possible; they’re better for the environment and enrich your home garden.
Foam Egg Cartons and Composting
Polystyrene, widely known as Styrofoam, became widely popular in the 1960s because it’s very cheap to make. Manufacturers create foam egg cartons by placing plastic beads into an egg cup mold and heating them to melt and form the shape of the egg carton. The plastic dries in the shape of the cartons we still know today.
Are egg cartons good for compost? Styrofoam egg cartons aren’t biodegradable and can’t be composted because they’re entirely inorganic. In short, the earth doesn’t want it back.
Styrofoam cartons generally don’t belong in the recycling bin because very few facilities are equipped for the complex process that Styrofoam recycling requires. It’s always best to inquire about your local recycling rules before recycling egg cartons made of Styrofoam.
What About Plastic Egg Cartons?
Many people wonder, “Can you compost egg cartons made from certain types of plastic, and are egg cartons recyclable?”
While there are biodegradable plastics, the average clear plastic carton is made from PET plastic or Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic. A PET plastic egg carton is not compostable because it doesn’t break down organically.
However, Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic is suitable for the curbside recycling bin, and a recycling facility can reuse a single piece of PET recycled plastic up to seven times.
Clean cartons thoroughly before recycling, and never put them in the bin if you’ve cracked the eggs and returned them to the carton. Salmonella cross-contamination from food residue is a concern, and it’s important to recycle responsibly.
How to Compost Egg Cartons
Can you put egg cartons in compost? Yes – learn how to compost egg cartons in this tutorial. Always determine the material your egg box is made of before composting. Paper and cardboard are suitable for composting with food scraps, PET plastic for recycling, and most Styrofoam cartons must go into the trash.
It’s incredibly simple to compost egg cartons once you’ve confirmed they’re assembled from cardboard or recycled paper. To speed up your compost process, remove any stickers and scrape off packaging glue, and cut the egg cartons into small pieces with scissors. Throw each carton scrap into your compost bin and add a cup of water to wet the material and speed up decomposition.
Paper and cardboard egg cartons are considered brown materials and contribute to the carbon levels in your compost pile, taking anywhere from two to four weeks to decompose. Kitchen items like a food-soaked paper towel also work for the bin. Never put plastic bags or packaging into the compost bin, or put household hazardous waste into compost.
When your compost is ready to use, apply it directly into the garden soil or make a soil and compost mix for your potted plants. They will thank you with healthy growth.
Can you compost egg cartons? Absolutely, and if you haven’t started yet, we hope this article about composting egg cartons has inspired you. Recycling a ton of paper saves around 17 trees and three cubic yards of landfill space; it’s an incredible way to impact change from your own kitchen.
When possible, opt for a paper product or cardboard egg carton. Do your best to recycle approved plastics through your local recycling facility. Check with your local recycling authority on up-to-date rules before starting a new recycling routine because regulations vary from state to state.
Can you compost egg cartons? If you enjoyed getting the answers to all your egg-carton-related questions, share this article on Pinterest or Facebook with your home compost-loving friends.